On 12:15, Scott Robert Ladd wrote:
>I just received a copy of THE SCOTTISH BANNER, an international
>newspaper. It's a wonderful publication, with news from Scotland,
>cultural notes, and a Gaelic language column. (if anyone wants
>info, I'll e-mail it)
>Now here's the rub: In the back of this paper, they have whole
>pages filled with "Clan" advertisements. As I understand it,
>these "clans" are mostly for American, Canadian, and
>Australian folk who descend from Scottish emigrants. These
>"clans" accept members with certain surnames, including those
>who belonging to "septs" or sub-families.
>So what do they do with someone like me, who can trace their
>lineage to at LEAST four clans?
>But I am curious as to the level of "proof" required before
>someone is generally accepted as being of "Scottish" heritage.
>I certainly don't want to end up in the "Celtic is trendy"
>crowd. I'm seriously interested in my heritage, from both a
>cultural and a historical perspective. If anyone here has
>insights or suggestions, I'd like to hear them.
Greetings, Scott Robert:
I can only speak from my own experience in dealing with the American clan
associations. American "clans" are simply clubs, with the main emphasis
being on two things: (1) finding out more about your clan's history and
networking with other Americans who share in that interest and (2) rallying
for Highland Games.
My mother's maiden name is Stewart; my father's surname, Beard (changed
from Baird in the 18th C.) My history was complete for the Stewarts, all
documented nicely; the Baird/Beard stuff wasn't as complete two decades ago
when I became interested in Highland Games and joining a clan. Neither
"clan" really cared terribly about my lineage. They asked questions, of
course, but mainly they were looking for members who would be actively
involved with the Games and with promoting "things Scottish." Mainly, it
is a matter of paying your annual dues and staying active/interested in
attending events sponsored by your "clan." There are Highland Games all
over the USA. My favorites are in Savannah, Georgia and Grandfather Mtn,
North Carolina, but I have attended others in Virginia and Kansas. The
Games are just a wonderful outing -- a great way to expose your children to
some "ancient good sport," and a meeting place for all people interested in
Scotland. You can dress up in your tartan, and this is the place for
finding out about bagpipe lessons or learning some dance steps. It is all
in good fun. Food is served (yes - haggis!) and there are various singers,
dancers, etc. Usually the festivities last several days.
Unlike many groups, such as the Daughters of the American Revolution,
American "clans" are not exclusive, nor or they going to insist on direct
lineage proof for membership. Your name will probably suffice! Just
choose one! I like the idea of selecting a name from your maternal side.
It's all in the spirit of being interested in having a tie, of some sort
(tenuous or not!) to Scotland.
Before I get *broiled* for being a crass American for participating in a
commercialized and boorish corruption of Celtic tradition, let me make it
PERFECTLY CLEAR that these gatherings are a FUN EVENT, with competition
between various "clans," providing an opportunity to hear some Celtic music
on authentic instruments, performed by people who never get the chance to
share their love of Celtic tradition any other time/way. So, for the
purists who think this gauche, FINE!!!! I love dressing up in FULL
REGALIA, and yes, I HAVE A KILT!!! In fact, I HAVE TWO -- a Baird and a
Stewart!!! So does my whole family!!! Furthermore, just to show you to what
lengths we TACKY AMERICANS WILL GO, my son (Robert Stewart -- get it:
ROBERT STEWART????) even has Stewart tartan draperies and bedspread!!! And
my family room sports Baird! So there!!!!!
My African American friends are discovering their "roots." I find it very
exciting! They are incorporating rituals into their lives so that their
children can experience in some way, however limited, a feeling for their
past. I don't care if they are "certain" or not what tribe they descended
from; if they are enjoying their heritage, tenuous or concretely
prescribed, WHO CARES??? Their children are learning something other than
Walt Disney versions of Fairy Tales. They are making an attempt to
PRESERVE SOMETHING and teach their children to HAVE RESPECT for those who
So, Scott Robert, HAVE FUN WITH IT!!!! I certainly am! And so is my
family. My son LOVES hearing stories about Robert the Bruce. In the end,
his sense of self will include a feeling of appreciation for the sacrifices
of ALL PEOPLE who went before him, all people of all ethnicities -- isn't
that what heritage is all about???